Mobile Gaming Roundup #13
So you missed the boat on Flappy Bird? Well if you think that’s the best the mobile market has to offer, get ready for an expectation readjustment! There are more great games than ever out there, here are just a few choice selections for your delectation!
A delightfully personable puzzler that virtually oozes character and charm, Threes is a new collaboration straight from the minds of Greg Wohlwend (Ridiculous Fishing, Hundreds) and Asher Vollmer (Puzzlejuice). With an extremely simple premise that allows for rich gameplay as future moves become increasingly harder to extrapolate, it’s perfect for quick games when you have five minutes to kill. Players are faced with a four-by-four grid, onto which tiles appear once per turn. A swipe in any of the four cardinal directions transplants the grid one tile in that direction, and any adjacent tiles able to merge will do so. Blue ‘one’ tiles merge with red ‘two’ tiles to make white ‘three’ tiles, which merge with other threes to form increasingly higher powers of that number - threes to sixes, sixes to twelves, and so on. It’s not just a clever name!
The game is over when the grid is full and no more merges can be completed. You’ll find yourself wanting to pile up the biggest number straight away, but if there’s no bro for it to be matched to, it’s just gonna take up space. Thinking ahead is key in Threes! New tiles are random, but you are granted a sneak peek at the next tile to enter, Tetris-style. The presentation is downright adorable, with each tile having a tiny face and a distinctive voice that greets you as it enters play. The soundtrack also exudes whimsy in every direction, all glockenspiels, accordions and scat singing. Equal parts elegant, engrossing, and at a price that won’t trouble your wallet, Threes needs to be on your phone right now.
Addendum: for people without i-devices or folks who just plain can't get enough Threes action, there is now a fan-made, dev-approved browser version. Get matchin'!
Tic-Tac-Toe. Noughts & Crosses. Exy Ozy’s. It’s known by many names and is generally one of the first games children learn, but then quickly abandon once they discover its limitations. However, by simply expanding the concept out by one order of magnitude, a new game is formed which is more taxing that you might imagine! Tic Tactics utilises a standard board, but the kicker is that each square is gained by winning its own embedded game of tic-tac-toe!
To begin, each player picks nine squares to claim from any of the sub-games. You can only claim each position type (e.g. centre-right) once. This is done in secret and once both players have made their choices, any tiles claimed by both are cancelled out, belonging to neither player. The game then begins, but the following rule is always in play: the square you place your mark in determines which board your opponent plays in on the next turn, e.g. if you choose the top-left hand square on the current board, your foe will be sent to the top-left board on the ‘big’ game.
Squares continue to be played on a board that has already been won. If a player is sent to a board that has been completely filled, they choose where to play next. These simple additions transform the game from a simple trifle to something seriously challenging. The game has an IAP system for online play, earning you points for wins, but is free for local pass ‘n’ play matches.
Another puzzler perfectly suited to the mobile platform, Kami requires your deep thought and consideration, but only a few taps of decisive action. Each puzzle is a pattern of interlocking paper squares of various hues; selecting a colour and then tapping on a square of a different colour will cause it to unfold and transform all matching adjacent squares to your selected shade, in a satisfying cascade of flowing card. In a few scant moves, your goal is to make the entire sheet uniform. Inevitably you’ll bungle it the first few times, but a single tap resets the board in a flutter. Getting a silver medal for a valid solution doesn’t require much effort, but achieving gold for the smallest possible number of flips will test your grey matter, especially in the later puzzles.
The initial purchase comes with forty-five sheets to solve, with an additional three sets of nine as IAPs. The soundtrack is suitably Japanese, a soothing wash of koto and panpipe as you ponder the paper’s mysteries, with a congratulatory flourish when you happen upon the solution. Ideal for finding your zen state on the bus or train to work.
If you aren’t familiar with the best quiz show on telly, where have you been? The show is a kind of irreverent Family Fortunes in reverse, helmed by the exceedingly amiable Alexander Armstrong, ably assisted by irrepressible fact-checker Richard Osman. A hundred people are asked a question, but the goal for the contestants is to find the most obscure (but still correct) answer provided, the pinnacle being the answer no-one else thought of, the coveted pointless answer. It’s always been fun to play along at home, but now the official Pointless app is here!
Alexander and Richard have been lovingly recreated in cartoon munchkin form, and you can play by yourself or challenge your friends through Facebook or email. The app comes with a cavalcade of questions and all the well-known theme music and sound effects from the show.